By Maddie PUMILIA and Sammi SLAYBACK
It was cars, food, fireworks and a parade – plus more – that was found at the annual Fiesta Days celebration over the Memorial Day weekend in La Cañada culminating on Monday with a moving ceremony which brought the community together to show appreciation for those who died serving our country.
The three-day weekend of events was hosted by the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce. This was the 39th annual Fiesta Days and coincided with the 100th birthday of the La Cañada chamber.
“It’s the Chamber’s gift back to the community,” said Pat Anderson, chamber president and CEO. “We have probably 17 activities going on over the entire Memorial Day weekend.”
On Saturday, there was a community breakfast provided by Kiwanis Club of La Cañada-AM and a vintage car show held at Memorial Park. The La Cañada band Misplaced Priorities played music as people ate and looked over the old cars.
“It started out as community service and then we made it a fundraiser,” said Rosemary Hook, Kiwanis Club of La Cañada-AM president. “We raise the money to give to the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, to the reading program, to the schools within the area and needy families in the foothills. So the money that’s raised is given to charity.”
The Club served about 600 breakfasts. The breakfast consisted of French toast, sausage, strawberries, sugar, orange juice and coffee. The food is donated by Ralphs in La Crescenta and La Cañada, Vons, McDonalds, the Greenberg Cheese Company and Trader Joe’s. The Club purchased the rest of the food.
“People come together, families come, maybe they haven’t seen each other in a while,” Hook said. “And when the weather’s like it is today, everyone says hello and eats.”
One car in the vintage car show, a 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, was owned by Bill Cronkite.
“I think [this event is] great,” he said. “I live here in La Cañada. I see family and friends and it’s just a wonderful community.”
Another car was a 1964 Chevy II Nova owned by Alan Hoffman. Hoffman showcased it in the weekend event because “it’s local here and there’s a lot of good friends that are showcasing their cars.”
On Sunday at Memorial Park, people had the chance to enjoy fare from local restaurant Los Gringos Locos or barbecued food including burgers.
From the gazebo, city Mayor Stephen Del Guercio thanked the Chamber adding that it was important to remember those who gave their lives in service to the country.
Closing the evening, the La Cañada Jazz Band provided music while people set up blankets and lawn chairs in preparation for the fireworks show. Anderson said an estimated thousand people would be at the fireworks show.
Memorial Day opened with a solemn service at Memorial Park, followed by the annual parade.
Each group lined up to march in their assigned order. Various groups walked down Foothill Boulevard, representing their causes, schools, businesses, and political affiliations. This year the parade’s theme was “Celebrating 100 Years of Chamber Service.”
“The parade took months to work out – we’ve been planning this entire weekend since January,” explained Olivia Brown who has been coordinator of the Memorial Day parade for the past three years. “Luckily we have a lot of people returning from previous years, making the process run more smoothly.”
After the parade ended, parade participants and onlookers migrated back to La Cañada Memorial Park for food, games and music. Bands played, committee members barbecued, sno cones were served, and activities were provided to entertain the kids. Even news crews came out to cover the event, showing footage throughout their morning and afternoon news programs. Community members enjoyed the gathering until 6 p.m. when everyone packed up their things and headed home.
“[Fiesta Days] is so much fun. This is a big weekend [that] we’ve been looking forward to,” said Miss La Cañada Flintridge Lauren Barsamian.
Anderson added that Fiesta Days was considered a success again this year.
“Every event has been over the top this year … it’s just a wonderful weekend,” she said.